In the wake of the election, many Georgetown students are shocked and angry—feelings that may obscure the significance of today. Today is Veterans Day. And while it may come and go with little thought by some on campus, it is a day of important observance and reflection for many here at Georgetown.
To honor the service of brave men and women here at Georgetown and veterans across the country, the Office of the President and the Georgetown University Student Veterans Association (GUSVA) have partnered to present Georgetown University’s Military Awareness Month. Throughout November, the Georgetown administration and student organizations are collaborating to raise awareness for the military community through events such as panel discussions, mental health lectures, and book signings.
Earlier this fall Georgetown did not qualify for the U.S. News and World Report list of best colleges for veterans. The significant drop in the rankings came as a surprise to many at Georgetown. In 2014, Georgetown ranked first in the nation, and last year the university ranked sixteenth.
According to GUSVA president and former Arabic cryptologic linguist for the Marine Corps Cristine Starke (SFS ‘18), Georgetown’s unranked status was the result of an error by the University.
“Due to an error in reporting, the number of students enrolled using the GI Bill at Georgetown was not reported and therefore Georgetown was not ranked.”
While Georgetown’s unranked status may be easily brushed off as an error, it may point to a larger problem here on campus: does Georgetown do enough for those who have served our country?
Some argue that Georgetown could do more. Jay Mooso (MSB ’18), GUSVA treasurer and former Navy Petty Officer, suggests that university can be more active in providing assistance to veterans and service members.
“This is the only drawback I see with Georgetown,” he said. “Their Yellow Ribbon Program offers very little assistance relative to other universities.”
Universities often use Yellow Ribbon Programs to attract veteran students by filling financial gaps in the cost of attending college that are not covered by the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The benefits offered by Georgetown’s program often vary drastically between programs, and in many instances Georgetown has limits on the number of students who can receive benefits in a given program.
“It boggles me and many others that the main campus undergraduate yellow ribbon program is still capped at $5,000,” said GUSVA President Cristine Starke. “Especially if you consider that, as undergraduate students we were almost surely all enlisted in the military as opposed to officer. This is important to note because as student veterans we are all considered financially independent according to FAFSA and the CSS profile.”
Other top schools including as Stanford, MIT, Duke and the Ivy League universities provide a wealth of campus resources to veterans including housing, community spaces, psychiatric services, academic resources and more.
Marine Cristine Starke suggests that Georgetown can provide enhanced resources for veteran Hoyas including a veterans’ lounge on campus and perhaps housing.
“I truly believe that we are each others best resource and building a community first requires a space in which we can create that community.”
These resources are critical to confronting the difficult task of reintegration into civilian life.
“Going back to school is tough, especially at an academically rigorous school such as Georgetown,” says Navy veteran Jay Mooso.
How can students support on-campus veterans? According to Cristine Starke, all you need to engage them and see them as people, instead of stereotypes.
“I think by engaging veterans and giving them a voice makes our experience a more human one to students who see war as an intangible show sensationalized in the media,” Starke said. “I challenge all students at Georgetown to think critically about the often vilified or broken image they have of a veteran.”
In the spirit of the Jesuit tradition that informs this university, Georgetown must do more to support those who have sacrificed so much for our safety. In honor of Georgetown’s Military Awareness month, we advocate for enhanced financial benefits and community building resources for student veterans at Georgetown.